SpaceX keeps coaxing their Grasshopper rockets into longer jumps as they continue to develop their reusable rocket program.
In the latest test, shown in this video, SpaceX’s Grasshopper rocket takes another leap into the history books by making a longer jump away from and safe return to the dead center of its launch pad. Seriously. Watch it!
For those who’d like to know why all the space nerds and getting so excited? Think of the two little rockets attached to the giant fuel tank that the shuttle would piggyback on. Two minutes into the flight they detach, deploy multiple parachutes and land about 150 miles off the coast where a small army of a recovery crew retrieves the boosters, using two specially designed boats. During this whole process motors inside the boosters are used to basically blow-dry the interiors from all the ocean they gulped during their time at sea. Turnaround time is a long process.
Along comes Elon Musk with the idea of a booster that’s like a homing pigeon. It goes up, does its job and then instead of helplessly landing in the middle of the ocean like Bambi on an ice pond, it flies itself back home, landing on its own little pad like a puppy playing frisbee and waiting for the next throw.
The Grasshopper eliminates a lot of space taken up in an old-school booster for chute deployment systems, allows for quicker turnaround time and stops about a hundred people from having to towel off a couple of giant booster rockets.
SpaceX is getting closer to their first take-off/recovery ‘landing’ where they’ll be substituting the ocean for dry land to see how the Grasshopper returns back to the ‘ground’. Once those tests are completed, it won’t be long before the Grasshopper does what Musk hopes it’ll do…
Move us into space faster and more frequently than ever before.